Friday, September 13, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 381

Chapter 381

Ulrika followed the sounds of the party, slowly climbing the curving staircase.  She took her time, savoring each sound and thinking how odd it was that often the sounds of joy so much resemble those of pain.

She paused at the landing and inhaled.

Looking around, Ulrika took a moment to sit on one of the long silk-covered settees which lined the passage, punctuated by important-looking busts on pedestals of colored marbles and anchoring the long row of portraits which spread out against the turquoise and coral plaster walls like a dozen suns dotting the morning sky--suns with faces, ruffs and lace.

Running her fingers over the gilt arm of the settee, she settled in and felt for a moment she'd like to take a nap there--like some ginger goldilocks, unwelcome in the cozy home of the bears.

"I could have been the queen of all."  She shook her head, muttering to herself.  She chuckled.  "I suppose Marduk wasn't my salvation.  How odd that I shouldn't..."  She shook her head, delighting in her own pain.  "It's horribly delicious, this disappointment."

She sank deeper into the silk upholstery and looked up at the glass dome which soared over the elongated oval corkscrew of the chairs.

"The Anglicans believe in heaven."  Ulrika continued to herself, peering at the sky through the dome.  "I know Orpha isn't there.   Nor is Marduk."  She shivered, partly with delight and partly with revulsion as she recalled watching the crew of men who had peeled the bodies of the two-headed baby and its mother from the street outside of Hamish House.

A clock chimed, startling Ulrika for a moment.  She hugged herself and moaned slightly.  Giovanni was already waiting for her at the docks--she knew that.  Yet, she couldn't help herself.  She just couldn't let that moment pass--the moment when the Duke of Fallbridge had narrowed his wild eyes at her and said, "It was an accident.  Wasn't it, Miss Rittenhouse?"

No, that couldn't be the last word.  She shook her head.

"How dare they all be so happy?"  Ulrika thought as more laughter wafted from the Drawing Room which waited for her on the other side of the balcony.

She rose and straightened her mannish neck to its full length.  With that, she walked to the Drawing Room door and cleared her throat.

All turned.  All eyes were on here--as she liked it.

"Really, such a lovely, little party."  Ulrika grinned.  "Is it a funeral?"

Come back on Monday for Chapter 382 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.

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